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All Whites eager to play without fear

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 5/10/2016

Striker Marco Rojas says the All Whites are determined to make the most of the freedom to play without fear in their upcoming matches against Mexico and the United States.

One of the last players to join the New Zealand training camp in Nashville, Tennessee, Rojas says the Kiwis are building combinations nicely as they prepare for their first-up match against world No.15 Mexico on Sunday (NZT).

The All Whites then travel to Washington DC for their game against the 22nd-ranked Americans three days later.

Rojas says the two friendlies offer the chance for coach Anthony Hudson to test players and strategies without pressure.

"These are important games, but they're friendlies so we can try things," the 24-year-old Melbourne Victory striker said.

"We don't really have the pressure of playing for points, or playing for qualifying spots.

"We can go out there and do what we want to do - look at our game plan, how we want to play, and give that a good shot."

It's a huge challenge for the New Zealanders, who struggled to beat Papua New Guinea 4-2 on penalties four months ago in the Oceania Nations Cup final.

The win secured them a prized spot at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia, and Rojas says while it might not have been the prettiest football, the win showed real grit.

"Sometimes our football wasn't the greatest, but we proved that mentally we were good enough to get through it, and now we have that big carrot waiting for us next June."

Ranked 88th in the world, the All Whites have been boosted by the return of West Ham defender Winston Reid, who will captain the side after missing a host of recent internationals through injury or unavailability.

Striker Chris Wood is also back after missing the Nations Cup final, and brings with him an impressive streak of form, having scored seven goals in 11 matches for English Championship outfit Leeds United in all competitions.

Rojas says their return has brought a real lift to the All Whites squad.

"You always want your best players - they're really important to our team, and you'll see that in the next couple of games.

"They make it easier for us."

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